Stocking stuffers at Christmas are kind of like cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. It’s there every year, but it’s usually an afterthought. It’s the opening band for the big concert.
But don’t you think the Christmas stocking deserves a little more love? After all, those stockings—hung delicately over the fireplace—are the first to greet Santa as he belly flops into your living room. And they‘re the first to bid him farewell when he climbs back up.
So, because we think stockings deserve a little more attention this Christmas, we thought we’d share our five rules for stocking stuffers.
1. Set a dollar limit.
This is top priority. How much are you going to spend on each stocking?
Some people like to keep the stocking stuffers cheap, while other people use the stockings to go all out with smaller gifts like jewelry or watches. Either way is fine, but make sure you budget for the stocking just like everything else.Related: Use EveryDollar to help you budget for each and every present.
2. Put some thought into it.
The stocking isn’t an afterthought! It’s a gift, like any other gift under the tree. Ask yourself this question: Am I filling the stocking just to say I’ve filled it, or am I buying stuff that the other person will actually appreciate?
Maybe your spouse would appreciate a Starbucks gift card and some chocolate more than a 10-pack of socks?
3. Think outside the stocking.
Do you give the same stocking stuffers every year—a gift card, maybe a pack or two of gum? What could you do that’s completely different this year?
You might consider giving coupons for acts of kindness (like watching the kids one night while your wife goes out for a girl’s night) or giving details about a special summer vacation you’re saving for. Sometimes an experience is more memorable than a physical gift, so what type of experience can your provide with the stocking?
4. Consider a theme.
Your 3-year-old collects My Little Pony. Your 6-year-old loves Batman. Your spouse is a huge Patriots fan.
Instead of just a hodgepodge of different stuff, you might want to consider creating a theme for each stocking. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, but that little bit of extra effort will make someone’s Christmas morning even more special.
5. Don’t force it.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with simply using the stockings as decorations and saving all your money for the gifts under the tree.
So if your family has never done the stocking thing, then there’s no need to start now—unless you truly feel like the change will be worth it. Your traditions are your traditions, so own them and be proud!
But if you find yourself trying to spice up your stocking-stuffer game this year, then take these rules to heart. We think your friends and family will appreciate the extra effort.
Use our free EveryDollar budgeting tool to help you plan ahead for your holiday expenses.